THE MEMBERS OF “The Chosen Few” AND
Background Notes About The Chosen Few
The Chosen Few was an important rock ’n roll “basement band” based on the North
Shore of Chicago in the early 1960s. Basement band? Well, they practiced in
basements. All of the initial band members attended New Trier High School, a
school that has spawned many great creative artists, musicians, actors and
producers. The North Shore was a hot spot for developing rock’n roll bands and
artists in the area. The Chosen Few began playing together in the Fall of 1963. The
co-founders were Chet Nichols, who played lead guitar and sang lead vocals, and
Phil Hagenah, who initially played guitar. A friend of Phil’s, Tom Peck, was begging
to join the band, so Chet and Phil taught Tom to play bass and Phil graciously
moved to the drums. Mark Springer joined to play rhythm guitar. Like many bands,
there were changes in personnel until the final nucleus was solidified. Along the way
they added Wayne Welch on drums and vocals and Jeff Weinstein on rhythm guitar
and vocals. Phil Hagenah, went on to be a very successful film producer and
Mark Springer went on to be a singer in The New Christie Minstrels.
They were one of the “house bands” at the famous Winnetka rock ’n roll nightclub,
The Rolling Stone. What set the band apart from other bands was the fact that
they played originals penned by Chet Nichols and mixed them in with danceable
cover songs. Chet’s songs were influenced by The Beatles, The Kinks, The Beach
Boys and The Rolling Stones. He wrote songs that people still remember today;
“You Made Me Cry”, “Million Dollar Sandbox”,“Stay Away”, “Over and Over”,
“Summer Love” and “If You See Kaye”, to name a few.
They played together until the summer of 1967, when college and the armed
Services finally split the band up for good. Tom Peck headed to Boston and
lived there for several years until migrating to San Diego, where he lived as a
free-lance writer and cared for his mother until June 2005 when he passed
away. Jeff Weinstein moved to Colorado and played in bands in the Boulder area
until he passed away in the 1980’s from complications of diabetes. Wayne Welch
went into the Army and took his basic training near Oklahoma City where Chet
first attended college. Wayne lived in Bonanza,,Oregon and his band, "The
Usual Suspects" played in the Klamath Falls, Oregon area. Wayne has two sons,
T.J., a bank executive in Illinois and Bob, an artist.
Chet transferred to Kansas University and was “discovered” in a coffee house in Kansas
City. This led him into a long-running solo career as a performer, recording artist, singer,
songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, actor, writer, designer and composer that is
still going strong. Chet has produced 30 CDs of material that runs from Outside
Folk Rock to Americana to Alternative Country to New Age/World Fusion
Instrumental compositions. Chet has been married for almost 4 decades years to Nancy and
they have two sons, Chet III, a site reliability engineer and Ben, a project manager in the technology industries.
Chet thought he had lost the tape that makes up the album, “Raw ‘n Roll”,
but found it in a box of old tapes stored in his garage in December of 2006, he turned to
respected San Francisco producer, Stephen Barncard, to salvage the tape and digitize it.
The tape was recorded on a 1⁄2 machine and is in mono. It was engineered
and recorded by Bill Bradley in his 3-story house in Wilmette one Saturday
afternoon. Bill went on to being one of the best engineers in the music
business, eventually working with Madonna and running her record company.
There is distortion and a raw feel to this tape because the pre-amps on the
mixing board were not built for loud drums and amplifiers and The Chosen
Few played loud AND fast. But the vocals are clear and out front. This CD is
un-cut and un-edited. It is an honor to be able to bring to you this little gem
of the history of an important band that was part of such a vibrant and
exciting time of emerging music in the 1960’s.
This CD is dedicated to the memory of Tom Peck, Jeff Weinstein, Wayne Welch and Bill Bradley.
Chet's Music From The 1960's
During the 1960's Chet started playing with his band, "The Chosen Few", on the North Shore of Chicago. Once the ban had to disband because of a member being drafted and others going off to college, Chet began his life-long solo career.
His time spent with "The Chosen Few", was very important, as it helped Chet hone his songwriting skills and where he wrote a deep collection of classic rock songs that are still entertaining people AND winning awards. His song, "If You See Kaye", won the "Best Song Contest" at Broadjam.com.
Chet had several old friends who kept asking to hear the "old songs", so he went into the studio and laid down a dozen tracks using 21st century technology. BUT, he worked hard to make the songs keep the essence of their 1960's roots. Chet entitled this collection, "Band In The Basement". If you are one who likes classic 1960's rock and blues, you can hear that album at this site. CLICK HERE!
Chicagoland's Quintessential Mid-Sixties Rock Band
Like discovering a diamond in the rough, Musician Extraodinare Chet Nichols unearthed a long thought lost 1964 taping of his band The Chosen Few. Thanks to Chet's perseverance, he had it re-lobotimized, cleaned up and digitized, reproduced and packaged. Considering the primitive conditions under which it was recorded on 1/2 inch tap, as well as it's forty three years of entombment in a long lost music graveyard, the sonic clarity and quality remained intact! Chet must have employed a kitchen magician, the ghost of Houdini, and a clone of George Martin, the producer of The Beatles, to bring this baby back to life. Thank the Music Gods for miracles.
What we have before us now folks, is the only known recording of one the hottest mid-sixities bands to grace the Chicagoland area and The North Shore. This band had a following that always backed the venues where they played. In spite of the young age of the members of the band (17-18), they displayed a sense of musical professionalism, far beyond their years. Additionally, their vocal talents were top notch, and balanced in true harmony. They played the various covers of that era, that ran from The Beach Boys to The Stones to The Beatles, and on and on. With Tom Peck on bass, Jeff Weinstein on rhythm guitar, Chet Nichols on lead guitar and lead vocals, and Wayne Welch on drums, they were a together group with a very tight sound. The biggest surprise of the group was Chet Nichols's song writing ability, which led him to a long and highly successful career as a highly acclaimed performing artist, proficient song writer and well noted author. Chet's self-penned songs on this CD are well written, highly evolved and perfectly vocalized and were a highly positive harbinger of things to come for him in his music career. Having seen this band blast out their many great songs on many occasions in those music filled years, I now have a piece of music history that I had longed for many a year. Anyone from that era needs this CD for their music collector. In addition, anyone who has ever lived or went to High School in the Chicago area, the North Shore, Wilmette, Winnetka, Kenilworth, Evanston and Highland Park, etc, is required to have this album. It's too bad that we don't have any more of the music that The Chosen Few played. However, this sonic taste of that time is like a whole musical feast!
Chet, many thanks for giving us a piece of the past that we had longed for such a long time.
A True Mid-West Musical Masterpiece!.